The 14th Amendment: A Living Document

Back to 14th Amendment

June 1, 2016
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Rines Auditorium, Portland Public Library
In partnership with the University of Maine School of Law and the Portland Public Library

This event is now full. If you would like to place your name on a waiting list, please contact Karen at or 773-5051.

Join the Maine Humanities Council and the University of Maine School of Law for a conversation about the Fourteenth Amendment between Kenneth Mack (Harvard) and David Blight (Yale), moderated by Danielle Conway, Dean of the University of Maine School of Law.

When it first passed 150 years ago, this amendment, one of the “Reconstruction Amendments,” sought to clarify the relationship between the federal government and the states with regards to equality, citizenship, and liberty. The most litigated amendment, it has been cited in some of our most critical Supreme Court cases, including Plessy v. Ferguson (18 May 1896, which enshrined “separate but equal”), Brown v. Board of Education (17 May 1954, which dismantled “separate but equal”), Griswold v. Connecticut (07 Jun 1965, which created a “right to privacy”)Loving v. Virginia (12 Jun 1967, which permitted interracial marriage), and Obergefell v. Hodges (26 June 2015, which permitted same-sex marriage).

What is the historical context in which the amendment was written and passed? How has it influenced American life, over time and in the present day? These questions and more will be discussed by Professors Mack and Blight, moderated by Dean Conway.

Kenneth MackKenneth W. Mack is the inaugural Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law and Affiliate Professor of History at Harvard University.  He is the co-faculty leader of the Harvard Law School Program on Law and History.  During the 2015-16 year, he will serve as co-faculty leader of the Workshop on the History of Capitalism in the Americas at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American history.  His research and teaching have focused on American legal and constitutional history with particular emphasis on race relations, politics and economic life. His 2012 book, Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer (Harvard University Press), was selected as a Top 50 Non-fiction Book of the Year by the Washington Post, was a National Book Festival Selection, was awarded honorable mention for the J. Willard Hurst Award by the Law and Society Association, and was a finalist for the Julia Ward Howe Book Award.  His is also the co-editor of The New Black: What Has Changed – And What Has Not – With Race in America (New Press, 2013).  His articles have been published in a wide variety of scholarly and general interest publications.  He is currently working on a book project that examines the social and political history of race and political economy in the United States after 1975.

He began his professional career as an electrical engineer at Bell Laboratories before turning to law and history.  Before joining the faculty at Harvard Law School, he clerked for the Honorable Robert L. Carter, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and practiced law in the Washington, D.C. office of the firm Covington & Burling.

David BlightDavid W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University, joining that faculty in January 2003.  He is Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.

Blight is the author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Harvard University Press, 2001), which received eight book awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize as well as four awards from the Organization of American Historians, including the Merle Curti prizes for both intellectual and social history.  He has also been a consultant to many documentary films, including, “Death and the Civil War,” (2012), the 1998 PBS series, “Africans in America,” and “The Reconstruction Era” (2004) among others.

Blight has a Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and did his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University.  He has also taught at Harvard University, Amherst College, North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and for seven years was a public high school teacher in his hometown, Flint, Michigan.  He was also senior Fulbright Professor in American Studies at the University of Munich in Germany in 1992-93.

Danielle ConwayDanielle M. Conway is Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law. She is a leading expert in public procurement law, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property law. She teaches in the areas of Intellectual Property Law, Licensing Intellectual Property, International Intellectual Property Law, Internet Law & Policy, and Government Contract Law.

Articles written by Dean Conway have appeared in numerous journals and law reviews, including the Washington University Global Studies Law Review, Computer Law Review and Technology JournalSouthern Methodist University Law Review,Texas Wesleyan Law Review, and Michigan Journal of Race and Law. She has lectured in the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Ghana, Palau, Micronesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Mongolia on topics including globalization, government contract law, intellectual property law, intellectual property licensing, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

Dean Conway has more than 20 years of active and reserve duty service with the U.S. Army, and recently was sworn in to the Maine Army National Guard (MEARNG). She currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel.

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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.